WRDE on Tour: Exploring Slaughter Beach's Natural Beauty
It's not the name that makes a town, it's the people.
Mayor Harry Ward, a Slaughter Beach resident of 13 years, took WRDE on a golf cart tour of the quaint beach town.
"People really thrive on this sleepy little beach community," Ward said.
Year round Slaughter Beach is home to 207 residents, hundreds of birds and marine animals and one really interesting name with three main theories about its origins.
"We like the theory that goes with the original postmaster in this area whose last name was Slaughter," said Ward. "But there's a pretty good possibility with the horseshoe crabs coming in and then dying after spawning that they named it after that, as a slaughter."
Ward said the last theory is a less than favorable for the town.
"The third version [has] to do with northern European settlers slaughtering Indians down here, but we haven't been able to find any proof of that," he said.
Aside of an unusual name, there are plenty of reasons to visit Slaughter Beach which is known as a go-to destination for eco-tourism.
Linda Parkowski, Executive Director for Delaware Tourism, said Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge attracts thousands to the town.
"If you want to bird or hike or canoe, they have some beautiful water trails," Parkowski said. "The DuPont Nature Center is located in Slaughter Beach and it really has a nice road you meander down farmland until you get to the bay."
Slaughter Beach is one of the unique Delaware coastal towns that boasts a wildlife refuge.
"We're pretty much surrounded by marshland. With all the wildlife between the marsh and the waterfront, we have horseshoe crabs and all the birds that the horseshoe crabs support with their egg-laying and their mating season," said Ward.
The town, along with other coastal towns such as Broadkill Beach, Kitts Hummock, and Fowler Beach, has been designated by the state as a horseshoe crab sanctuary due to the species' migratory and mating habits taking place there. The horseshoe crab is also the official state marine animal of Delaware.
Ward said visitors can expect to find live horseshoe crabs on the beach along with a few other finds.
"Many people come down here and look at the shells and think that they are all dead horseshoe crabs. Horseshoe crabs molt, much like spiders and other insects. An awful lot of the shells here are just molted shells," said the mayor.
A whole two miles long, Slaughter Beach may be small but the community always gets together in a big way.
"[The] July 4th Regatta we have two sailboat races, which is a catamaran race and then a monohull race. And the last couple of years we've added pie eating contests and a wet t-shirt contest," said Ward.
And before any eyebrows are raised, Ward said the wet t-shirt contest is strictly G-rated as both men and women participate in putting on five wet t-shirts, taking them off and they're monitored for any potential wardrobe malfunctions.